Movie #328 2020: No Country For Old Men (2007)

There’s a reason behind the fact that I’ve never watched this movie before, but we’ll get onto that later. The real question is… Is this the best Coen Brothers movie so far?

No Country For Old Men swept the Oscars when it was released. Not only did it receive eight nominations, it won four of the most celebrated awards for things such as Best Director and Best Picture. Described as an ‘American neo-Western crime thriller’, which pretty much hits the nail on the head, it’s basically a cat and mouse story. In short, we follow a criminal who is a methodical killer, and as we watch on, we witness the police pursue him as the lines between ‘predator’ and ‘prey’ become radically blurred.

So, what’s that story behind why this is my first watch of No Country For Old Men? Well, I was supposed to watch this as part of my university degree, but ignored the professor’s wishes because I thought “it looked boring.” And what a moron I was. 

Every single shot here is perfect and meticulously crafted. Each frame could hang up on the wall like a piece of thought-provoking art. The Coen Brothers and Roger Deakins are truly a match made in heaven and I am so grateful for their partnership. Astoundingly, Deakins did not win the Oscar for Best Cinematography that year, so I’m going to have to see Paul Thomas Anderson‘s There Will Be Blood to figure out whether or not that was a travesty. (Though I’m currently quite biased, I’m leaning towards yes.)

This is a modern day (well, it’s set in the 1980s, so close enough) Western, sewn together by sparse landscapes and extremely strong performances. With a bloody flair and mature, current themes, the Coens created something here to bring the classic genre up-to-date for a new audience. Masterful and innovative, and certainly the place to start if ‘you don’t like Westerns’.

Javier Bardem is just as brilliant as the cold-blooded anti-hero as the critics all said back in 2007, but I can’t review this without mentioning my guy Tommy Lee Jones. He’s excellent in everything he’s in and this is no exception. Bafflingly, I’ve not seen too many of his movies, yet it’s clear that he’s one of my favourite actors. The final scene? Some of his best work.

The silence, the tension, the build-up… sure, you have to have some patience to reap the reward, but god damn it’s worth it. It won’t be everyone’s cup of tea in terms of genre or pace, but you can surely appreciate the pure artistry in this piece of extraordinary filmmaking.

No Country For Old Men is available to stream on Netflix, Sky Cinema and Now TV in the UK.

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